Dealing with the cloud's threat to IT jobs

Cloud computing has created some great opportunities in IT, but many still consider cloud computing a threat to their livelihood

It's difficult to track cloud computing without stumbling upon a few stories about cloud computing coming in and pushing IT workers out. There's also the threat that if they don't adopt cloud computing, they'll be labeled as "non-innovative" and shoved out the door just as fast.

I hear about these concerns more in one-on-one conversations than in meetings these days, as it's become very politically incorrect to push back on cloud computing in public statements. My response is a bit different, depending on whom I'm speaking with, but the core notion is the same: We are always evolving IT; thus if you're in IT, your job is going to change much more often than other industries -- so get over it. Cloud computing is not the first disruptive technology to evolve approaches, skills, and career paths, and it won't be the last.

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The core concern is that more efficiency leads to fewer people. Indeed, cloud computing should bring better efficiencies to IT, so in some instances businesses won't need as many IT bodies as before. This is logical considering that having fewer servers in the enterprise means needing fewer people to manage the servers. Moreover, the cloud brings better ways to do development and testing, as well as fewer instances of expensive enterprise software installations that have to be maintained internally.

Clearly, we're going to adjust our staffing needs within enterprises as cloud computing becomes more pervasive. But in the past, we've done this around the ERP movement and client/server, outsourcing, just to name two. I believe there will be many more cloud computing jobs created in terms of cloud managers, cloud solutions architects, platform-service developers, and so on. I suspect that there will be a huge net gain in IT jobs due to the cloud, and salaries should kick up higher over the next several years as well.

The real concern here is around change, not cloud computing. Change is and should be core to IT. We should always be thinking about better ways to support the business. Cloud computing is just one instance of change and one instance of a type of solution that could make things better. The more effective IT is, the more opportunities we'll have for growth --  and that translates into more, not fewer, jobs. Let's keep that in mind.

This article, "Dealing with the cloud's threat to IT jobs," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and follow the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com.

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